Mainland businessman found guilty of failing to pay employees of defunct Hong Kong broadcaster ATV on time
City’s court will sentence Si Rongbin, who vowed to rescue Asia Television at one time, on May 4
Mainland businessman Si Rongbin, who once pledged to keep Hong Kong’s now-defunct Asia Television afloat, was convicted by a court in the city on Thursday for failing to pay 29 of the former broadcaster’s employees on time.
Si, who was declared bankrupt last month, pleaded not guilty to 44 summonses over his role in the TV station’s failure to pay the wages and termination payments of the 29 employees worth a total of HK$730,000 within the legal seven-day limit.
Acting principal magistrate Joseph To Ho-shing stated in a written verdict that Si had been more concerned about the completion of share transfer in the company than about paying the employees on time.
“[Si] never set aside the sum of HK$14 million needed to pay all the staff members at the ramshackle ATV on time ... [he strived] to oppose the winding up of ATV and, in so doing, allowed the company to owe its employees wages,” the magistrate said.
The Sha Tin Court rejected Si’s submissions that ATV was heavily in debt and that the firm had focused on its development and fundraising. “None ... is a reasonable excuse for owing payment to staff,” To said.
He added that ATV could have ceased operation earlier to stop losing money and avoid owing its staff their salaries.
The city’s oldest television station went off the air in April last year after its free-to-air licence expired, following years of financial and managerial turmoil.
Under the Employment Ordinance, employers have the statutory responsibility to pay wages on time. The maximum penalty for wage offences is a fine of HK$350,000 and imprisonment of three years.
The Sha Tin Court adjourned sentencing to May 4.